It was a lovely visit - we went apple picking, sat around our new fire pit on a windy fall evening, and had plenty of laughs and great meals together. My mom is such a workhorse she cleaned out a great big section of the garden where we will be laying out next year's hay bales soon, and also cleaned up my front flower beds. It was great to see them, and I'm so excited my little sister will be only 2 hours away for the next few months!
Along with all of the visiting, I've been in major food-preservation mode for the past few weeks. This year's tomato harvest was amazing despite all of our garden challenges this season, and we ended up with more canned tomatoes than we have ever made before, plus various pickles, and loads of frozen veggies as well. Below are some of this year's efforts, though it is still a work in progress! (Want my recipes? Just follow the links in the post below...)
Things picked up a bit from there, as we were treated to cooler temperatures for the rest of the summer, as well as plenty of rain. In fact, I didn't even turn on my irrigation lines from the end of June until early September!
The peppers suffered from some kind of weird early blight, and I wasn't even sure they were going to make it, but they suddenly pulled through around the beginning of August and finally started blooming, so we are just finally getting peppers NOW! We definitely won't end up with as many as usual, but I should be able to freeze quite a few green ones at least. I am waiting as long as possible, hoping for some colored ones as well before it freezes...
The dry beans did really well too - probably due to all the rain. The Jacob's cattle beans are currently drying in the loft, and I will be pulling the black beans soon as well. Fortunately other than letting them dry and shelling them, no preservation is needed for those. :-)
With no cucumbers or squash, I didn't do a ton of pickling this year, but I was able to do a small jar of pickled squash that a neighbor gave us (we love these on hamburgers!), and a bit of okra as well as the green beans. I should also be able to do a couple more jars of banana peppers (which my husband loves), as our only banana pepper plant is finally loaded.
Those are pickled with vinegar - not naturally fermented - but I feel confident enough with fermentation now that I think I will try making some fermented pepper pickles as well, once we start harvesting a lot of the peppers. I found a cool-looking recipe for a fermented pepper salsa base in Mother Earth News that I want to try...
I have 2 jars of kimchi brewing right now, and have promised my husband a big batch of sauerkraut to follow. I am just trying to pick them as soon as they start looking unhealthy, but will keep a few in the garden as long as I can - we sure don't have room for them in the fridge!
And the giant bag of apples we picked last weekend is waiting in the crisper for juicing in preparation for my annual batch of hard cider - always an interesting adventure that turns out different every time! :-)
I guess that's the round-up for now! Other than the few exhausting weeks of canning tomatoes, it has been a good year, and not too stressful preservation-wise. So far, I've had time to tackle everything mostly one at a time. When the first freeze comes, I'm sure I'll be pretty busy cleaning, chopping, and freezing peppers and celery for a week or two. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the beautiful fall weather and the continued bounty of the garden! Then will come winter, or as we gardeners know it, "rest season"! I can't deny there is a part of me that is looking forward to it... :-)
Do you preserve your own food? What foods do you preserve, and how? Let me know in the comments below, or drop me an email!
P.S. I just found out there is a really cool Homesteading Skills online summit coming up this week - I know it's short notice, but check it out if you can - it looks awesome!
Go Here to Register for Free...